Iowa Chapter opposes state attempt to deregulate licensing

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

NASW chapters remain on alert after focused attempts to eliminate or alter licensing requirements for social workers and other professionals are on the rise.

RathmanIn one of the latest examples, NASW members and social workers turned out in force to voice opposition to a bill proposed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican. It called to eradicate licensing requirements for numerous professions, including social workers.

Denise Rathman, executive director of the NASW Iowa Chapter, sent an alert to NASW chapters, saying the attempt appears to be a targeted effort by lobbying groups. An estimated majority of those in attendance were social workers when the Iowa House subcommittee met to discuss the governor’s bill, Rathman noted.

Iowa State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican, chaired the subcommittee where the Branstad bill was assigned. Kaufmann said he received more than 3,600 emails about the bill, almost all of them in opposition, Rathman reported.

“The most effective speaker was probably the licensed dietitian, also at risk of losing her license, who spoke up for social workers because her daughter had been hospitalized due to an eating disorder and it was the social worker who was the most effective of the team treating her,” Rathman said.

Branstad’s bill was rejected by the subcommittee on Feb. 27, but the following day another Republican-led bill was introduced that sought to create a governor-appointed task force that would have taken a look at the state’s licensing boards. That proposal also failed to advance out of subcommittee, Rathman said.

Branstad argued there are too many state-licensed professions in Iowa.

“These licensing boards kind of look at it as something (like), ‘We’re there to protect the profession, not the public,’ and that’s my concern,” Branstad was quoted saying by Radio Iowa. “In some cases we’ve gone into places where I really don’t think we need to be licensed and it drives up the costs and it keeps out the competition.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) are conservative political advocacy groups that receive funding from the businessmen and philanthropist brothers David H. Koch and Charles Koch. The groups support regulatory reform, according to their websites.

The Iowa lobbyist for AFP was registered in support of the Branstad bill and was one of the two or three people who spoke in support of the bill at the subcommittee meeting, Rathman said.

From the May 2017 NASW News. NASW members may read the full story here.


  1. I recall reading this article last summer in the NASW newsletter and still think of the details of it almost weekly. Being that females constitute approximately 80% of the social work profession, does anyone else find this effort to “deregulate” licensed professionals in Iowa appalling? I find it of no coincidence that (Republican) Governor Brandstad, was coached and financially-backed, by big money organizations ALEC and AFP (which are organizational lackeys for the Koch Brothers) as a suitable puppet in this attempt. NASW organizations beware – the insidious and covert attempt to chip away and break the power of those in the helping professions (teachers, nurses, social workers, etc.) will continue. Stay tuned and be politically savvy.

  2. Here in NC, there was an attempt to do something similar. Fortunately it fell apart and didn’t get a vote. I cannot see how deregulating/removing licensing boards will do anything for economic improvement. See article about NC’s attempt below:

  3. When I need a Social Worker I want to be able to believe that social worker “A” knows the same basics as social worker “X”, with variations for specializations. I don’t want to have to ask, “Are you licensed?” or “Do you have your master’s degree in social work?” That is a waste of my time and adds more stress to my original problem. Please don’t take away regulations and licensing obligations for social workers.

    If you do take away licenses for social workers and/or deregulate the social work services being provided then you might as well take away all licensed and regulated professional activities such as: medical doctor, tractor-trailer driver, nurse, pharmacist, and on and on. When I hear that the requirements for social work are too stringent it causes me to believe the complainant to be a bellyacher who has not met the requirements.

    Get off your B-hind, finish the MSW program, take the licensing exam for LMSW, complete your professional requirements under supervision and take the Clinical Exam! Every minute you invest in your own readiness to provide reliable social work services will serve you well in all of your future endeavors. I am very proud to have MSW and LCSW after my name. You will be equally proud when you do too.

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